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How to Avoid Cyber Rental Scams

Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it's true: words to live by, especially when renting online.

You think you’ve found the perfect place – everything you've been searching for with a landlord eager and willing to accept first, last and security. But beware; that too good to be true listing you found online might actually be too good to be true. Harini Venkatesan—CEO and co-founder of RentalRoost, Inc. shares his tips to help you avoid becoming a scam-victim when renting online.                                                                                                             

First and foremost, make sure to set up an appointment in the landlord to see the property in person. “Some scammers say they can’t show you the property because they’re ‘out of town’ and they plan on getting the keys to you through a lawyer or agent,” says Venkatesan. “This is almost always a scam, so beware of any properties where you haven’t actually seen the landlord at the property.”

Next, be sure to use a reputable website – double check the listing to make sure it is what it says it is. If a property is listed way below the average neighborhood price, consider this a red flag.

“Some scammers use the story that they are out of town or out of the country so you will have to wire them money before they hand over the keys,” says Venkatesan, who can’t stress just how important it is to never wire money to anyone in this situation. “Even if the deal seems appealing, resist! It’s highly probable that this is a scam, and you’re likely to lose a lot of money in the process.”

Plan ahead. Give yourself enough time so that you don’t end up make a panicked decision you will regret. This will also prevent you from ignoring red flags

Finally, trust your gut. “If your gut instinct is giving you an indication that the landlord doesn’t seem entirely honest, do a quick Google search to see if anyone else has posted a report regarding a scam related to the landlord,” says Venkatesan.